A Filibuster Won’t Stop the Barron Nomination. But Rand Paul Is Ready to Talk.

The senator wants the public to see the so-called drone memos that the Obama administration has promised to reveal.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, leaves a Republican Senate caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol September 30, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Elahe Izadi
May 21, 2014, 8:27 a.m.

Rand Paul wore com­fort­able shoes to work Wed­nes­day.

Un­like last year, when he moun­ted an im­promptu fili­buster on a nom­in­a­tion over drone policy. “We had no plan and I had the wrong shoes on, my feet were hurt­ing the whole day,” the sen­at­or said back then. On Wed­nes­day, Paul came to the Cap­it­ol pre­pared in case he does end up hold­ing the Sen­ate floor for hours to voice con­cerns re­lated to drones.

The Ken­tucky Re­pub­lic­an’s con­ten­tion this time: the nom­in­a­tion of Dav­id Bar­ron to the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the 1st Cir­cuit. Bar­ron, a former Justice De­part­ment of­fi­cial, helped write the leg­al jus­ti­fic­a­tion for the use of drones against Amer­ic­an ex­trem­ist An­war al-Aw­laki, who was killed in Ye­men in 2011.

But Paul hasn’t de­cided yet wheth­er he’s go­ing to stand on the Sen­ate floor for hours on end in or­der to delay Bar­ron’s nom­in­a­tion. And that’s be­cause he can’t ac­tu­ally stop the nom­in­a­tion this time around. Last year, Paul talked for 13 hours to delay Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship from mov­ing ahead with the nom­in­a­tion of John Bren­nan to lead the CIA, in­sist­ing that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion weigh in on wheth­er the U.S. can use a drone to kill an Amer­ic­an cit­izen on Amer­ic­an soil. Paul re­ceived this let­ter from At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Hold­er in re­sponse.

But this time around, the le­gis­lat­ive clock has already been set in mo­tion. After an af­ter­noon pro­ced­ur­al vote, Paul can talk for 30 hours if he’d like. But once that time ex­pires, the con­firm­a­tion vote will be held, no mat­ter what. It’d be noth­ing more than a talk-a-thon, a la Ted Cruz’s 21-hour anti-Obama­care rant.

Paul con­ceded to re­port­ers Tues­day that he “can’t do any­thing” to stop Bar­ron’s nom­in­a­tion.

“There’s no real great sort of aim to draw at­ten­tion to something that there is no real pos­sib­il­ity of delay­ing, so really this would re­quire cour­age on the part of some Demo­crats,” Paul said. “And I don’t think they’re eval­u­at­ing it as if this were a Bush nom­in­ee. I think they’re eval­u­at­ing it from a par­tis­an point of view.”

These days, the Sen­ate can con­firm ju­di­cial nom­in­ees with just a simple ma­jor­ity of 51 votes. Last year, 60 votes were re­quired.

Sen­at­ors have had more than a week to re­view in a se­cure room the memos Bar­ron penned. Some lib­er­als had also ex­pressed con­cern with the Bar­ron nom­in­a­tion and in­sisted that they should also be re­leased to the pub­lic, such as Sen. Mark Ud­all, D-Colo.

But on the eve of Wed­nes­day’s pro­ced­ur­al vote to move the Bar­ron nom­in­a­tion ahead through the Sen­ate, the ad­min­is­tra­tion signaled that it would re­lease those memos to the pub­lic.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id voiced con­fid­ence Tues­day that the Bar­ron nom­in­a­tion would get suf­fi­cient votes to pass. But the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­cision to de­clas­si­fy the memos cer­tainly does help rally more lib­er­al sup­port. For in­stance, Ud­all said that de­vel­op­ment means he’ll now vote for Bar­ron.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sur­prise move isn’t enough for Paul, however. He wants the Bar­ron nom­in­a­tion delayed un­til the pub­lic ac­tu­ally sees the memos and has time to re­view them. And it’s un­clear when those doc­u­ments will be re­leased, since it’ll take time to al­low for re­dac­tion re­quests and a court to re­view such changes.

“I would say we had some vic­tory today. I think if I had not made a stink on this, I don’t think [they] would re­lease it and/or maybe some Demo­crats quietly agree­ing to vote for it if the pub­lic is to see it,” Paul said. “But really, pub­lic de­bate in or­der to stop something or in or­der to bet­ter elu­cid­ate an is­sue takes a while. So it’d be nice if we now had three weeks for the pub­lic to dis­cuss and de­bate these memos, and to really come to grips to what we’re agree­ing to, and we’re not go­ing to have that.”

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4963) }}

What We're Following See More »
FILING DEADLINE IS JUNE 24
McConnell Urging Rubio to Run for Reelection
35 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "One of the things that I’m hoping, I and my colleagues have been trying to convince Senator Marco Rubio to run again in Florida. He had indicated he was not going to, but we’re all hoping that he’ll reconsider, because poll data indicates that he is the one who can win for us. He would not only save a terrific senator for the Senate, but help save the majority. ... Well, I hope so. We’re all lobbying hard for him to run again."

Source:
LEAKER SHOULD STILL STAND TRIAL
Holder: Snowden Performed a Public Service
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said that NSA leaker Edward Snowden "actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made" by releasing information about government surveillance. Holder, a guest on David Axelrod's "Axe Files" podcast, also said Snowden endangered American interests and should face consequences for his actions. 

Source:
LOOKING FOR A CALIFORNIA COMEBACK
Bernie Hits Game 7
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Sen. Bernie Sanders, needing an improbable comeback to take the nomination from Hillary Clinton, showed up to the Warriors' Game 7 in Oakland during a break in California campaigning. "Let's turn this thing around," he told the San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli.

Source:
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
4 days ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
×